What Certification Is Required to Be a Respiratory Therapist?

To become a respiratory therapist, the first step after completing the education requirements will be to earn your certification. This article explains what certification is necessary in order to gain licensure as a respiratory therapist, covering both levels of certification in the field. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Certification Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensure is required to work as a respiratory therapist in almost every state, Alaska being the exception (BLS, www.bls.gov). Many employers also require current CPR certification. Obtaining a license generally follows the same criteria necessary to obtain certification in respiratory therapy. Certification, which is offered by the National Board for Respiratory Care, is divided into two levels depending on education. Some states grant licensure only to therapists who hold certification.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2018) $60,280
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 23% growth
Key Skills Math, science, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills
Work Environment Hospitals, nursing homes, patients' homes
Similar Occupations Occupational therapist, radiation therapist, physical therapist, registered nurse

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)

Entry-level certification as a respiratory therapist takes the form of the certified respiratory therapist credential (CRT). The examination focuses on three areas of respiratory therapy:

  • Reviewing and obtaining data about patients' health
  • Working with equipment safely, ensuring that there's no contamination and that equipment works properly
  • Performing and appropriately modifying respiratory care procedures

Eligibility for the certification examination is determined by the highest level of education completed. Applicants should have earned an associate's degree in respiratory therapy through a program recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Applicants who've completed the first two years of coursework in an approved bachelor's degree program are also eligible to sit for the exam.

Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)

Intensive care and supervisory work in respiratory therapy generally require the National Board for Respiratory Care's second-tier certification: RRT, or Registered Respiratory Therapist. This certification test, which consists of both a clinical simulation and a written examination, is available only to those who hold the CRT certification. Additional requirements can be met through education, work experience in respiratory therapy, or a combination of the two.

Generally, this education should come from an advanced respiratory therapy program, but a bachelor's degree program that includes courses in anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, mathematics, and physics is acceptable when paired with clinical experience as a respiratory therapist.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools